New Phenomena Have Large Impact In Expanding Word Of Book Publishing

Posted by on Jul 12, 2015 in Perry's Blog | 0 comments

Last month (June 14th) I chronicled an important trend in book publishing: “Publish on Demand.”  Although Publish on Demand may not define the future of all book publishing, it may chart the future of book publishing for first-time authors and for those who cannot find a regular publisher.

Now let’s take a look at some other recent phenomena that have had a huge impact on authors, the reading public, book stores and publishing houses.

First: eBooks and eReaders.  Let’s suppose you love to read books and are planning long trip and do not want to haul a bunch of books with you. In just a few minutes you can download a dozen books onto a reader that is smaller and lighter than a paperback book. A great feature of these Ereaders is the ability of anyone to adjust the print (or font) size. Also, since eBooks require no paper, every time you order an eBook you save a tree (or a portion of a tree). EBooks are also cheaper than paperback or hardback books. Haven’t tried an eReader? Borrow one from a friend—you may soon be hooked.

The Kindle Fire with a 6-inch display is my favorite. Because it is backlit, books can be read in bed at night.  You will not disturb anyone (person, cat or dog) sleeping next to you.  Another reason I love my Kindle Fire is that it is small and lightweight (only ten ounces)—hence it is easy to hold and easy to travel with.

The Marine Corps has come up with a creative way to maximize the value of Kindles. Marine units which are scheduled for deployments receive a number of Kindles. Thanks to the generosity of the Marine Corps Association and Foundation, Kindles, each containing  300 downloaded books, are provided free of charge to these units. These Kindles are equivalent to small libraries – at a tiny fraction of the size. (I just learned that my new book on Jimmie Dyess has been downloaded on each of the Marine Kindles.)

Next: Kirkus reviews. One way an author can gain support, momentum and robust sales is from a Kirkus review. Kirkus has a well-established reputation for objective reviews of books.  Here is how the Kirkus system works. An author pays a fee to Kirkus to have his or her book reviewed.  Kirkus assigns the book (or a clean manuscript) to a highly respected scholar.

Two months later, Kirkus sends the completed review to the author. If the review is unfavorable, the author can bury the review—no one else will see it. If, however, the review is favorable, the author may use it in any way he or she chooses. I was quite fortunate—I just received a quite positive review from Kirkus on my new book, Courage, Compassion, Marine: The Unique Story of Jimmie Dyess. Here is an excerpt from this review.

“In some ways, Smith’s book is without nuance: the virtues of the military and patriotism are never questioned, and Smith is a firm believer in the nobility of the “greatest generation.” Luckily, Smith has the research to back up his convictions. A classic account of service, duty, and sacrifice.”

Next: Social Media.  A recent change in the marketing of books is the creative use of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs all are excellent ways to get the word out on a new book. In fact, a big part of the early success of Possibilities is the fact that Turner Simkins had already been reaching thousands of people through his blog.

Author cooperation: Because of the ease of communication using the internet, text messages and cell phones, it is easy for authors to provide mutual support. I have learned much from Mike Ryan, Bowdre Mays and especially Turner Simkins. Turner has had great success with short talks followed by book signings fifteen locations around the country.   Also, Turner has found that having reviews on is a grand way to gain momentum for a new book. At the three-month mark, Possibilities has forty-six favorable reviews on—an impressive number.

How can you help an author with a new book?  Word of mouth has always been helpful in gaining momentum for a book. If you love a book, talk it up among your family and friends. Finally you may wish to write a book review on and  As you might expect, books which have many favorable, well-written reviews tend to do better in the marketplace than those which do not.

 [This column appeared in the Augusta Chronicle on July 12, 2015]

Comments are closed.